NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (September 05, 2013) — All senior citizens on Nevis who live alone, have no fixed source of income and are 65 years and older stand to benefit from a new programme to be implemented by the Ministry of Social Development by year end. The Free Utilities Programme is slated to be launched in October during International Senior’s Month as a three tier system.
Junior Minister in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) responsible for the island’s seniors Mrs. Hazel Brandy-Williams spoke of the Ministry’s new initiative on a recent episode of The Social Development Outlook, a Nevis Television Channel 8 programme hosted by Mr. Curtis Morton.
“We indicated in the manifesto that we will bring free electricity and water to seniors 65 years and older living on their own, without any other additional income, any other fixed income coming from any place else. We will award them with free electricity and water and so as we speak, the Permanent Secretary and the Seniors Coordinator are engaged in getting the names and collating the data so that we can roll out October 1st.
“However, how we plan to do it is in three tiers and so we will look at 80 and upwards and we will roll out those first. Then we look at 70 to 80, we roll out those second and then 65 t0 70 we will roll those out third, so the three tiers. By December, we should have all completed,” she explained.
In response to how the seniors who were not registered with the Seniors Unit within the Ministry of Social Development would be reached, Minister Brandy-Williams said there were two options available to reach those persons.
“We have the Home Health Care programme where we have persons going into the community and looking after the senior citizens who are housebound and so we are using that medium to get some of the information that we need.
“We are also collaborating with different utilities departments, NEVLEC and Water Department, to see if there is information they have as well that we can have access to, to have an overall collation of data so that we don’t leave anybody out and we will welcome information from persons, if we would have missed anybody. Neighbours might know of a particular person who has been left out and we welcome persons to come and explain to us as well. The point person is Mrs. Garcia Hendrickson,” she said.
Meantime, the Social Development Minister used the opportunity to speak to another programme that would also be launched in October to honour the seniors 90 years and older on Nevis.
“There is also a new programme that we hope to launch for the Seniors Month as well and it is called by myself the ‘Golden Prestigious Portraits.’ In this programme, what we are trying to do is to capture our seniors and so we are in dialogue with Mr. Vaughn Anslyn, who will do portraits of our seniors 90 years and older but for the month of October what we will do is start with the oldest person in each parish and we will have those portraits done first and then after that we will tier in the others but 90 and over,” she said.
However, Mrs. Brandy-Williams added that seniors who had made significant contributions to communities on Nevis would not be left out.
“There are some persons who are seniors that have made meaningful contribution to the communities and might not obtain the age of 90. So we are looking at cases as well where we might do some outside of the criteria of persons who would have made meaningful contribution in the society. We will have the portraits hung in the different community centres,” she said.
The Minister also spoke to other recent initiatives for the Seniors already in place when she took up office earlier this year that were ongoing, among them the Steel Pan, Inter-Generational and the Health Wellness programmes.
“There was a new initiative I think which started last year. It was discussed last year but it was implemented earlier this year and it is a programme called the Inter-Generational Programme. This programme is one where the seniors go into the primary schools and they interact with the young children for a day.
“They talk to them about the culture as it was in their days and they highlight issues such as the way they used to cook, the form of cooking implements they used in terms of the three stones and the oil burners and things like that and they walk with implements such as the ‘goose,’ the old-time iron to show them how they look. That was implemented in the VOJN School earlier this year and next they move on to St. Thomas’ School in September,” she said.
The Health Wellness Programme was implemented earlier this year with Mr. Masefield Nisbett leading the exercise sessions for the seniors.